Mike Sweeney has signed a minor league deal with the Mariners and will be invited to spring training. Was just discussing this with Larry Stone over lunch yesterday, wondering why Sweeney had not been invited back. He had a very strong finish to last season once his back woes were worked out.
The Mariners are not likely to add Sweeney to their major league roster by Opening Day, given their stated desire to have players who can still play a position. Ken Griffey Jr. is already there as strictly a DH. You can’t afford to have two guys like that on a 25-man roster.
But the M’s do owe Sweeney big-time for what he did last year as far as reining in the clubhouse. By giving him this opportunity, he can show other clubs what he can still do and perhaps land a spot with them. Or, there could be an injury or two to some M’s players in camp. You never know. Sweeney told me at the end of last season that he wanted to play for Seattle or close to his San Diego area home. That pretty much means for the Angels. We’ll see if he’s changed his mind about that.
Here’s a press release put out by the team:
SEATTLE, Wash. — Seattle Mariners Executive Vice President & General Manager of Baseball Operations Jack Zduriencik today announced that the Mariners signed designated hitter Mike Sweeney to a minor league contract with an invite to Major League Spring Training.
“We are happy to invite Mike to Spring Training,” said Zduriencik. “He was an integral part of the 2009 season and we look forward to him competing for a spot on the roster this season.”
Sweeney, 36, hit .281 (68×242) with 25 runs scored, 15 doubles, 8 home runs and 34 RBI in 74 games with the Mariners last season. He missed 11 games while he was on the disabled list from July 7 (retro to July 6) to July 21 with back spasms. Sweeney was originally signed as a minor league free agent by Seattle on Jan. 29, 2009. He made the club last year after coming to camp as a non-roster invitee.
Sweeney hit .381 (32×84) with 11 runs, 6 doubles, 4 home runs and 15 RBI over his last 25 games. His average from Aug. 20-end of season was the second-highest in the Majors (min: 90 plate appearances). He hit .455 (5×11) as a pinch hitter, tied for highest in the AL (min. 10 PA).
Sweeney is a .298 career hitter with 207 home runs and 883 RBI in 1398 games over 15 seasons in the Majors. Sweeney spent the first 13 years of his career (1995-2007) in Kansas City before spending the 2008 season with Oakland and signing with Seattle prior to 2009. He is a five-time All-Star (2000-03, 2005) and hit .300 in four consecutive seasons from 1999-2002, including a career high .340 in 2002. He set a Royals single season RBI record with 144 in 2000 and added a career high 29 home runs that year and in 2001.
The Mariners now have 63 players reporting to Major League Spring Training (40 players on 40-man roster, 23 non-roster invitees). Pitchers and Catchers will hold their first workout February 18 in Peoria, Ariz., and the first full-squad workout will be held Feb. 23.